Lotte Laserstein

Akt (Margarete Jaraczewsky)

Lotte Laserstein, Akt (Margarete Jaraczewsky)

Oil on Masonite

99.5 × 61 cm / 39 3/16 × 24 in


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Private Collection Sweden (-2021); Uppsala Auktionskammare (Auction 10. Nov. 2021, Lot 00107); Private Collection Süddeutschland (2021-2023)

  • Galerie Ludorff, "Neuerwerbungen Herbst 2023", Düsseldorf 2023, S. 88

Born in 1898 in Prussian Holland (now Pasłęk, Poland) and educated in Berlin at the Academy of Arts under Erich Wolfsfeld, Lotte Laserstein dedicated her life to art. Even as a child, she dreamed of becoming an artist. Later, she was one of the first women to enrol on an art degree programme. Working successfully as a freelance artist was still completely unusual during the Weimar Republic. Nevertheless, Laserstein celebrated the first significant successes in her career with a solo exhibition at the Gurlitt Gallery in 1931 and her participation in the Great Berlin Art Exhibition at Bellevue Palace. However, this came to a sudden halt after the National Socialists came to power, who made life and work increasingly difficult for Laserstein due to her Jewish origins. In 1937, the artist seized the opportunity and emigrated to Sweden. When Stockholm's Galerie Moderne dedicated an exhibition to her, Laserstein took the opportunity to take the work she had created up to that point with her into exile.

Once she arrived in Sweden, Laserstein made a living by producing portraits and other commissioned works for the upper classes. Portraits continued to be her favourite genre, so in addition to commissioned work, she also produced many portraits of friends and acquaintances. In Germany, her friend Traute Rose had been the model at her side for many years; in Sweden, it was now the economist Margarete Jaraczewsky (known as Madeleine), whom she had met in 1939 through the graphic artist Hugo Steiner-Prag. The painting 'Akt (Margarete Jaraczewsky)' was created in the 1940s and shows Laserstein's friend undressed and from behind. We only see her face in half profile. The main focus is on the sitter's body. With a delicate and tonal colour palette, she is depicted in an observing position, Margarete seems to be completely absorbed in herself and lost in thought. An intimate moment is reflected in the depiction. Laserstein was one of the first women to assert herself in the male-dominated genre of nude painting. She adopted the male voyeur's gaze and transformed it from one of erotic desire to one of observation.

Between 1969 and the year of her death in 1993, the artist was represented almost every year with at least one public presentation of her works in her adopted home of Kalmar and other Swedish cities. In Germany, however, her work was forgotten for many decades. Only in recent years has her rediscovery begun with major exhibitions at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt (2018) and the Berlinische Galerie (2019).

About Lotte Laserstein

Lotte Laserstein (1898-1993) is a painter of the “lost generation”, who had her breakthrough between the two world wars and was no longer recognized in Germany after 1945.
After studying at the Akademische Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin, her career took off in 1931 with her 1st solo …

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